DIVERSITY: AN ANCIENT WOODEN SHIP

You're already aware that Bill Bennett is a stupid person, but he nonetheless manages to write things on a regular basis that make one step back and think, "Wow, Bill Bennett, you are a very stupid person." During the GOP Convention he wrote what I can only describe as a piece of blatant FJM bait, but it was too repetitive and silly to earn the honor. You see, Bill Bennett watched the Convention and walked away impressed at the diversity of the Republican Party.

I'll give you a second to collect yourselves. Then I'll be cruel and destroy your fragile equilibrium by subjecting you to his words:

When the Republican National Convention kicks off this week in Tampa, Florida, the nation will notice one thing before anything else: This is not your father's or grandfather's Republican Party. Rather, it's a party with leaders as diverse as the country it intends to represent.

Do you need another moment? Raise your hand if you did not think the phrase "not your father's Republican Party" was going to appear in the first paragraph.

Bennett listlessly rattles off some of the non-white convention speakers totally unaware of how much it makes him sound like an old white guy saying, "Look! We found a black!" With zero self awareness, Bennett does not appear to grasp how sad it is that the party had to drag out the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah because that is the highest position held by a black woman in the party. As for black men, well, they're not stupid enough to let Allen West go out there. In hindsight, I'm shocked that he didn't volunteer to sit in the chair for Eastwood. Might have helped Romney's numbers with African-Americans, currently hovering at statistical zero.

Despite the fact that Romney is doing terribly among women, Latinos, and basically anything that isn't White Guys and old people, the GOP has a some members from those demographics to bring out at convention time – a few female governors and some Teabagger-friendly Hispanic elected officials (or candidates like Ted Cruz). So yes, Bill Bennett is technically correct. The GOP speaker lineup featured more diversity than one might expect.

This is impressive only if you are someone (not unlike Bill Bennett) who doesn't understand the difference between diversity and tokenism, between a fairly representative cross-section of the party and a veneer painted on the outside of the box for the TV cameras. He correctly notes that there were more Hispanic speakers than usual, but how influential are they in the party? Are these Republican leaders who happen to be Hispanic or are they just whatever Hispanics the GOP could find? With an immigration policy to the right of the average drunken border militia, it's not like the party is actually doing anything to appeal to Hispanic voters. The same could be said of the female speakers. There are no women in leadership roles within the party or among Republicans in Congress. There are four female Republican Governors, one of whom (Jan Brewer) appears to normal people to be quite mentally ill. Again, the distinction between tokenism and diversity appears lost on Bennett.

The speaker list can be touted from here until kingdom come, but the pure, blinding Christian Whiteness of the convention audience says everything about a party that has shot itself in the foot with Hispanics by repeatedly appealing to anti-immigrant and nativist sentiments, done more to alienate women than the entire world supply of Tapout t-shirts, and has all the diversity of a modern soft drink commercial. That is, its "diversity" is superficial, heavily staged, and ultimately unconvincing. Any organization can comb its ranks from top to bottom and find an African-American woman or a few Hispanic people somewhere. Are they actually representative of the population within the group? Are they persons of legitimate influence and importance or were they trotted out by the old, white, male-dominated party leadership specifically so that the party did not look like the old, white sausagefest that it is? Rather than being pleased with its Potemkin Village of Diversity, the Party might want to worry that Romney's 25% support among Hispanics is the lowest for a Republican in 20 years, Obama's 20 point lead among women in key swing states, and the party's continued inability to appeal to any demographic that isn't shrinking rapidly with each passing year.

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26 Responses to “DIVERSITY: AN ANCIENT WOODEN SHIP”

  1. J. Dryden Says:

    Curses, Ed, I was drinking tea from my fine bone china whilst wearing my family's antiquest of monocles when you hit me with that Bennett quotation. Needless to say, my spit-take hit Lady Haverford directly in the decolletage, ruining her fox stole, and neither cup nor monocle survived the plummet to the parquet, so agog was I at the reported commentary.

    Bennett is becoming increasingly endearing as he enters the prime stage of his "Old Coot"-dom. There's just no relation to the reality that prances around the outside of that man's skull, trying to come in, only to be told repeatedly that no, thank you, he's just white-washed everything in here and he'd like to keep it pristine.

    As a side-note, I mentioned to my wife while watching the Democratic Convention, "The hardest thing for a cameraman at the GOP Convention is finding minorities in the audience–the hardest thing for a cameraman at the Democratic convention is finding two members of the same minority sitting side-by-side." Seriously, once we started to look for it, it got funny–"Honey, look–two Hispanics are side-by–oh, wait, no–on second look, that guy's a Pacific Islander. Never mind–keep looking!" If the election is going to be decided by which side makes for the better television, Obama's got this one locked up. (It's not, but hey, I live in Ohio, and I promise to pressure my students to vote–I'm doing my part!)

  2. Middle Seaman Says:

    Kicking dead horses elevated to an Olympic sport. Ed, I'll pay for the beer of you promise to leave Bill Bennett RIP alone. Actually, the whole GOP is the Koch brother private motorized zombie.

    It seems that Obama is quite solid due mainly to people such as Bill the Gambler. Otherwise, why would we vote for the sham of the last four years?

  3. Arslan Says:

    Why does the "diversity" of speakers mean anything? They chose the speakers. If he wants to prove they have more diversity, he needs to find it in the crowd of people who came to the convention on their own.

  4. Rude E. Joolyonee Says:

    But, 9/11!

    9/11!

    9/11!

    Republicans will keep you safe. That is all.

  5. Sarah Says:

    As I said a couple of weeks ago, the modern Republican party is the party of racist and misogynist shitbags. But they (or the party leadership, anyway) are smart enough to know that they have to give lip service to the idea that being a racist and/or misogynist shitbag is a bad thing. When they lose, they will be able (in their minds, at least) to say that, hey, they did give it the ol' college try on the diversity front.

  6. c u n d gulag Says:

    If you're a minority and/or a female, and want to get into politics, being a Democrat means that you may be obsure for a long time, since those are a dime a dozen in the party.

    Being a Republican means you get mucho dollars from the party, and if you win, you get thrown into the limelight at conventions, get calls from FOX, and have a secure future awaiting you, collecting Wingnut Welfare for the rest of your life, as long as you don't to rogue.

    If you've got boobs and/or are darker than vanilla ice cream, you're sure to be a star as a Republican.

    And lily-white fat-boy Chris Christie proves that maybe all you need to be one of their featured boobs, is to have them.

  7. bklyn4eveh Says:

    Isn't this a form of affirmative action?

  8. anotherbozo Says:

    I've been wondering if what we're witnessing isn't the slow suicide of the Republican Party. Recent developments have all the earmarks of desperation of a party that refuses to change and adapt, except to the most lunatic elements of the Tea Party, changes that put it even further out of the mainstream. It's kept alive by a few ossified billionaires, who buy media and media opinions, but it's only the appearance of life. Their money has–let us pray–more impact on state and local elections than on the national stage; hence, the plethora of Republican governors.

    The sense of desperation would make the horrifically traitorous, unAmerican machinations of the last few elections—from the unusually blatant gerrymandering, the "cleansing" of voter rolls, ballot obfuscations and deliberate ambiguities, and the latest voter suppression, seem less inherently evil, more the frantic struggle of an entity facing its own imminent death.

    My only other theory is that of all-consuming greed. The people at the top want the lion's share, ie, all, and are willing to do everything/anything to get it, to hell with any pretense at democracy. [Insert quote about all governments gravitating toward totalitarianism here]

    Bennett may not be as stupid as you make him out to be, Ed. Maybe he's just an inept shill. He knows what he avows is a crock, but he avows it thinking surely SOMEONE will be taken in. In which case, he's served his cause. As best he can.

  9. RosiesDad Says:

    Ed: Don't encourage them. Tokenism and ignoring the priorities of Hispanics, women and Blacks will ensure, within a few more election cycles, that Today's Republican Party is destined for the dustbin of history. Where they belong.

  10. c u n d gulag Says:

    anotherbozo,
    When it's cornered, is when a rat is most dangerous.

    The same goes for ratfuckers.

    There are groups out there, like "True the Vote," which will be openly trying to intimidate people coming out to vote in heavily Democratic districts.

    http://www.usmessageboard.com/conspiracy-theories/246010-report-warns-minority-voters-could-be-intimidated-by-polling-place-vigilantes-3.html

    Fascism is on the rise.
    And the banana's Republicans are the Fascist's party of choice.

  11. Major Kong Says:

    You've got it all wrong. The GOP is very diverse.

    They've got:

    Muslim-haters
    Plutocrats
    Neo-Confederates
    Ayn Rand worshippers
    Minutemen Mexican-haters
    Birthers
    Birchers
    Israel-firsters
    Christian Reconstructionists
    Misogynists
    Neo-con warmongers
    and conspiracy theorists of all stripes

    It's one big dysfunctional tent

  12. J Says:

    Ed, you overlooked a vital part of that quote that makes the whole thing true: "…as diverse as the country it intends to represent." It intends to lead a country of white guys and old people. Anyone else can go fuck themselves.

  13. Major Kong Says:

    GOP diversity roll call:

  14. Totoro Says:

    Surprising honesty from Senator Graham:

  15. Totoro Says:

    Once more, with feeling:
    "The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term"

  16. Jonathan Says:

    @anotherbozo, central to authoritarian thought is that the ends justify the means, and explicitly authoritarian political parties like the current GOP have no qualms about furthering their ends through any effective means. What you see as an increase in desperation, I see partly as an increase in efficiency, effectiveness, and tolerability of the mundane practice of these dirty tricks: "What once were vices are now habits."

    It's the other part that's a bit more interesting. I'll start with two observations: first, in his early days on the air, Rush Limbaugh once had this accusation he would regularly fire at the D party, "symbolism over substance". Second, US car companies engaged in something termed "badge marketing", in which advertisements emphasized the intangible (or, less generously, imagined) benefits of their badges rather than the virtues of their products, presumably because there isn't a whole lot of differentiation to be found in a box with wheels and an engine.

    I think what you're seeing now is that the *substance* of the two Establishment parties, the overarching policy that is created and implemented, is remarkably consistent from term to term regardless of party turnover: incumbent creditors win at all costs. The R party has been using badge marketing for some time now, at least since Rush started swinging that canard around. As a result of said lack of policy diversity, the D party in particular has followed the GOP's lead and switched to "badge marketing", defining their brand through ever more pandering "vision statements" (or "platforms" if you prefer) and saying very little about the product or its track record, about which there isn't honestly all that much good to say.

    The upshot is that the D party, the designated assimilator of protest (which is what "big tent" party really means), is assimilating the Republican Party. The lifestyle partisan foot soldiers who have internalized their tribe's role on either side of this carefully nurtured divide-and-rule blood feud are none too happy about this shift, and continue to assert the tribal distinction ever more earnestly, with the sharpest knives seemingly reserved for those who point out that endorsing the Establishment through either of its brands has not, cannot and will not *actually* reverse the trend of consolidating power and wealth within that Establishment, but will only support their efforts and change the narratives and excuses when the party in power acts according to bipartisan policy instead of its platform.

  17. anotherbozo Says:

    @Jonathan -
    last part of your last sentence kinda lost me – not sure what antecedent the verb "will support" connects to.

    In any case, re: "with the sharpest knives seemingly reserved for those who point out that endorsing the Establishment through either of its brands has not, cannot and will not *actually* reverse the trend of consolidating power and wealth within that Establishment.." Be careful not to flatter yourself overmuch. Those who see the game for what it is are so ephemeral, so few, as not to rate hanging. They (i.e., you) can be safely ignored. Of course we can hope that big numbers eventually see the light, but that satori is a long way off…

  18. Bentpine Says:

    Christ. Even Jeb Bush went on record last month to say that the GOP must change their "tone" and "message" and "reach out to a broader audience."
    Or die as a party.

    Ok, he didn't really say the last part, but he might as well have.

  19. anotherbozo Says:

    P.S. Even if it becomes common knowledge that the same puppeteers are controlling both parties, there's no way around it except through the political process, the same rigged system that created the problem in the first place. How to get big money out of politics? Vote it out. Sure, but first you've got to have the pols in congress willing to do it. And how do they get there? They need money to win the election!

    Round and round and round in the cir-cle game…

  20. mel in oregon Says:

    sure the republicans have a few wealthy black people, a few wealthy gay people, some wealthy women, & a few wealthy cubans living in south beach. big deal. that's not diversity. when there is an appeal to those that aren't wealthy, then diversity will be an accomplished fact.

  21. Z Says:

    Hate to have to correct our host on something, but the Repubs actually do have a woman leader in Congress, though she's like 5th in the House GOP hierarchy. Vice-Chair of the House GOP Caucus is Cathy McMorris-Rodgers of Spokane. Politically, I'd describe her as Eric Cantor with boobs.

    Not that this makes the GOP "war on women" any less real.

  22. Major Kong Says:

    But! But! They have Allen West, which means the Dems are the real racists!

    Really, it's true. The nice man on Fox News told me so.

  23. mcsey Says:

    @Major Kong and Methodists!

  24. Dick Nixon Says:

    Before we hold services over the demise of the Republican party, keep in mind that the core demographic they appeal to (older, white and male) have a demonstrated track record of voting more often than the diverse groups represented by the Democratic coalition. This shows up most often in off year elections–(e.g. 1994,2010) where the stakes are perceived to be lower than in presidential years.

    In my home county, we get up to 70-75% turnout for national elections followed by 40-45% in off years. The off years have been very good to the Republicans here. The more committed voters have their single vote multiplied by coalition indifference. Democrats fall in (and out of) love, Republicans fall in line.

  25. g Says:

    Well, of course the GOP is the choice of minorities. Bill Bennett's housekeepers, yard men and shoe-shiners assure him of that whenever he asks them who they're voting for.